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A stroll down Soi Seadragon . . . here comes Phuket's new Blingla

Phuket Bids Bye Bye Bangla, Hello Blingla

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Soi Blingla Photo Album Above

SOI BANGLA is rapidly becoming Soi Blingla. Big changes are underway in Phuket's Sin Central.

Going, going, gone are the low-rent - yet at the same time high-rent - bars. Coming soon are upmarket retail outlets and refined drinking and carousing establishments that will change the character of Phuket's most famous stretch.

Expect more franchised outlets. Expect more shopping and less sin (at least, less sin on display for tourists.) The forecasts after the tsunami that the Jungceylon shopping mall would trigger the makeover of Patong are coming true.

At Soi Bangla's eastern end, the old Baan Sukothai Resort has been razed after bidding goodbye to its final guests on August 19. The property is not being replaced.

Sources told Phuketwan today that a big new glitzy retail plaza is going to arise from the real estate rubble.

And that probably also accounts for the green screening now adorning the front of the Ocean shopping mall on the other side of the road.

Bangla, prepare to be transformed. Here comes Blingla. Get set to shop . . . but not for the age-old purchases, booze and sex. Both could once be bought along this strip, retail or wholesale, and even enjoyed on the premises.

Not for much longer. Largest and latest of the transformations is down Soi Seadragon, where dangling laborers on a soaring concrete and steel skeleton hint at fun on many levels. There's not a skerrick of thatch or bamboo to be seen.

The days of accommodation being found right in the heart of the action in Patong appear to be gone forever. The place is being f-ed over. (F being for franchise.)

Take-away eating establishments have flourished, but the concept of taking home anything else is rapidly disappearing.

Thanks to thorough policing, the iguana touts appear to have disappeared. Other traditional signs of lawlessness are likely to follow.

Some of the bars further down the strip have even stopped allowing hostesses on the premises. The old Soi Bangla is being well and truly f-ed over. (F for family-friendly.)

A copy-goods vendor who sells from a small wall in an alcove in Soi Bangla helped to explain why it's becoming Soi Blingla.

Her vertical patch of turf, about four metres by two metres, costs 50,000 baht a month to rent. In the alcove with her is another wall of pirate goods, plus a tour desk, both being rented at similar cost.

If an open space earns its ''owner'' 150,000 baht a month, one can only imagine how much people are prepared to pay for real shops, how much goes to various ''partners,'' and how rapidly the price of everything in Soi Bangla is being inflated.

Just as well the tourists keep coming, and just as well that the income stream will never stop. Bling, bling, blingla.
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Comments

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It's to late to look at history, the money has already been spent. Here's history none the less. Las Vegas and Times Square both tried to clean up their acts and become family friendly. After a short while they missed the money, and went back to the tried and true method, selling sin. The only thing that changed was an increase in prices.

Phuket, as I see it, will not be able to go back to its previous ways without a major campaign, and a huge drop in pricing. For the record, I live here, do not go to Patong, and only see the island of Phuket, not just Patong, becoming a commercialised and expensive Singapore. Thanks but no thanks!

Posted by Ed Money on October 12, 2010 16:36

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Timely, interesting story cleverly, nicely told. When I saw Baan Sukothai going, I too took that as the final sign for Bangla. Wasn't it there before Bangla was there, before the bears finishing of the leftover spare ribs in the cages at Dooley's! My most memorable image of it is the morning of the tsunami, the boats in the parking lot.

Posted by Don Miller on October 12, 2010 17:28

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I don't know much about the history of Vegas and Times Square, but i have heard that Patong is striving to become more family friendly.

Imagine Patong as family friendly first and foremost, with the sexy side of it being relegated to the back streets.
I don;t see any reason for it not happening, to be honest.

Thaksin always said he was trying to attract a 'better' type of tourist. It might work !

If they could sort out what everyone knows needs sorting out, then it might just work !

Posted by Mr Man on October 12, 2010 17:35

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So where are all the drunken sailors going to hang out? It's going to lose that whole circa 1950's south sea Island meets Suzy Wong feeling. Well; "There Goes The Neighborhood"...

Posted by Spody Ody on October 12, 2010 19:01

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I see that the tuk tuks are still parked side by side are these going to be turfed off the Bangla when the make over is complete, or will they take over so no cars can park to shop?

Posted by William Dale on October 12, 2010 20:45

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"At Soi Bangla's northern end, the old Baan Sukothai Resort..."

North end? Bangla is an East/West road.

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Phuket,+Thailand&ll=7.893309,98.298197&spn=0.004251,0.009645&t=h&z=17

Posted by D on October 12, 2010 21:14

Editor Comment:

Yes, wrong again. I'll fix it, thanks.

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Why was this such a secret? even Bill Barnett missed this one. I hope there is no hanky panky going on. Rumor on the street has it that there are 60 bars going in there for big money. I must say the demolition was extremely fast and efficient.

Posted by Tel on October 13, 2010 08:28

Editor Comment:

This was no secret, it's just that nobody issued a media release. How do you imagine the process works? We went and we asked, which is what journalists do.

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For those missing all the bars in Soi Bangla , move direction to Nai Harn and Rawai, plenty of new supply. For us doing business in Patong, we are delighted to attract more families.
wm patong

Posted by Wolfgang.Meusburger on October 13, 2010 11:47

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I don't get it. You seem to be saying this is a clean up of the seedier aspect of Patong (Bangla Road). I was there last Saturday and visited Suzi Wong's then a bar outside. Both operate in Soi Sea Dragon even though it is not complete. Conversations with the barkeep indicated quite clearly that the area was being redeveloped as bars, including an upstairs section, not shops. In other words, Nana Plaza
reincarnated 800km south. It's not the end of an era of sex exploitation, it's the beginning of an era of sex exploitation on a conveyor belt.

Posted by A. Skeptic on October 14, 2010 00:30

Editor Comment:

If you are reading what we ''seem to be saying'' then you are not reading what we are saying. What the article says is: ''Coming soon are upmarket retail outlets and refined drinking and carousing establishments that will change the character of Phuket's most famous stretch. ''

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Maybe i am a little stupid.. but my question would be why.?? to spread the prostitution to side walks.? i mean you can change the street, but you cant change people, and the facts of the major sex industry in Phuket, sorry service ;o).. well i guess it again is a matter of money. I see new ugly cement buildings here in Rawai popping up.. not that someone wants to make a beautiful guest house.. no when it is finished.Its for sale.. again greed with no respect for the surroundings..ethics is an unknown word in Phuket

Posted by Ulrich on October 14, 2010 12:06

Editor Comment:

Ulrich, Soi Blingla will develop in different ways. The ''western'' beer bars are spreading all over the island, so Blingla, with its extraordinarily high rents, will have to learn new, upmarket tricks. By the way, sex was around on Phuket long before tourism. It may be around long after, too.

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Re my earlier comment. OK I rephrase: What you ARE saying is that Bangla Road is changing into a cheap tourist /cheap jewelry/outlet street. Definition of Bling: rubbishy cheap tasteless trash. But at the same time you postulate that it will become an expensive retail outlet. Make up your mind, for the sake of clarity please. "Coming soon are upmarket retail outlets", "Expect more shopping and less sin (at least, less sin on display for tourists.)" As I wrote yesterday, all that is happening is that the sex industry is changing up a gear. A magnum of champagne to whomsoever proves correct in his forecast.

Posted by A. Skeptic on October 14, 2010 21:22

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Skeptic! Bling isn't always cheap. There is a lot of expensive, tasteless trash around. Just because some people are rich, doesn't mean that they have good taste.

Posted by Mac on October 15, 2010 09:11

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Dear editor.. i am sure sex was here before tourists.. sex is a little unadvertised, but i think too its here to stay.. but i don't think there was any " short time " or "long time! before the tourists took over.. maybe just Time ;o)

Posted by Ulrich on October 15, 2010 12:30


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